Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Composing music for television

If you listen to old television series on YouTube, one thing you will notice right off is how repetitive the music is. The composers can get by with it, because viewers are not focused on the music and usually do not notice it. But TV scores basically are constant repetition of a few themes, varied just a little as the occasion calls for it, and made to fit the available time spaces. I doubt it is very aesthetically rewarding, but I am sure it pays well.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Crazy philosophy

Schopenhauer says suicide's absolutely OK. He says Hindoos do it instead of going to church. They bung themselves into the Ganges and get eaten by crocodiles and call it a well-spent day.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Friday, July 27, 2018

He was not stern enough

It is an unpleasant thing to say of any man, but there is no denying that the hon. Galahad's face, when he was listening to the confessions of those who had behaved as they ought not to have behaved, very frequently lacked the austerity and disapproval which one likes to see in faces on such occasions.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Donlevy's colorful early life

Oscar-nominated actor Brian Donlevy played a lot of swashbuckling roles in his career, both on the big screen, television, and on radio. And his early years were just about as colorful as those he portrayed on the screen.

He lied about his age and entered the Army at age 14. (One suspects the recruiting officers were not looking too closely.) When General "Black Jack" Pershing was sent to punish the bandit Pancho Villa, Donlevy was in the expedition. In World War I he was a pilot in the Lafayette Escradille, a unit in the French Air Force composed of American and Canadian pilots. Before entering the movies, he was a model for famous illustrator J. C. Leyendecker.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

It was the pig's fault

"The boy bounces tennis balls on pigs," he went on, getting down to the ghastly facts.

Sue was surprised. The words, if she had caught them correctly, seemed to present a side of Ronnie's character of which she had been unaware.

"Does what?"

"I saw him with my own eyes. He bounced a tennis ball on Empress of Blandings. And not once, but repeatedly."

The motherly instinct which all girls feel towards the men they love urged Sue to say something in Ronnie's defence. But, apart from suggesting that the pig had probably started it, she could not think of anything.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Just use an alias and move on

The Law of Great Britain is a remorseless machine, which, once set in motion, ignores first causes and takes into account only results. It will not accept shattered dreams as an excuse for shattering glassware: nor will you get far by pleading a broken heart in extenuation of your behavior in breaking waiters. Haled on the morrow before the awful majesty of Justice at Bosher Street Police Court and charted with disorderly conduct in a public place - to wit, Mario's Restaurant, and resisting an officer - to wit, P. C. Murgatroyd, in the execution of his duties, Ronald Fish made no impassioned speeches. He did not raise clenched fists and call upon Heaven to witness that he was a good man wronged. Experience, dearly bought in the days of his residence at the University, had taught him that when the Law gripped you with its talons the only thing to do was to give a false name, say nothing and hope for the best.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Monday, July 23, 2018

He played them both

Among old television buffs, Howard Marion-Crawford is well known for having played a very creditable Watson on the British-produced Sherlock Holmes TV series. What is less well-known is that in 1948 he had played Holmes on a radio adaptation of "The Adventure of the Speckled Band." That made him one of the few actors to have portrayed both characters.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Can't keep a secret

In many respects the ideal accomplice for an undertaking of his nature, Hugo Carmody had certain defects which automatically disqualified him. To enroll Hugo as his lieutenant would mean revealing to him the motives that lay at the back of the venture. And if Hugo knew that he, Ronnie, was endeavouring to collect funds in order to get married, the thing would be all over Shropshire in a couple of days. Short of putting it on the front page of the Daily Mail or having it broadcast over the wireless, the surest way of obtaining publicity for anything you wanted kept dark was to confide it to Hugo Carmody. A splendid chap, but the real, genuine human colander.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The fear within our minds

But though the place was secure, there was an enemy within that he had not made allowances for - his own imagination. One does not need enemies as long as the imagination can provide them.

(from Under the Sweetwater Rim, by Louis L'Amour)

Friday, July 20, 2018

Frank McGrath - Charlie Wooster

One of the most lovable character actors from back in the days of television westerns was Frank McGrath, who played Charlie Wooster on the Wagon Train program. He served as the cook, and was one of our favorites when we were children.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Soldiers win battles; factories win wars

The war would be over, and he was wise enough to know the Confederacy could not win. They had the best riders, the best shots, and the most willing fighting men; but they did not have the factories, the mines, or the staying power the North had.

(from Under the Sweetwater Rim, by Louis L'Amour)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018


I believe I read that the July temperatures in Arkansas are slightly higher overall than those in August, but I believe that August is more trying, because by that time the long streak of brutally hot and humid days has begun to sap my vitality (what little remains).

Smell the roses

          "I could love this if it weren't for the circumstances," Belle commented. "I've never been so high before."
          "Love it anyway," Brian said. There are always dangers, even when you believe them to be far away. Man have lived with both danger and beauty from the beginning."
          "I did not know you were a philosopher."
          "Nothing of the kind. But when a man lives with a gun beside him, he comes to savor every moment if he has any sensitivity at all. The trouble is that most of us live in anticipation or in memory, never in the present moment. There must always be times like this when you just sit still and listen, feel, see. You live longer and live infinitely better."

(from Under the Sweetwater Rim, by Louis L'Amour)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cotten sounded like the disease

Actor Joseph Cotton just sounded like throat cancer. After you listened to him talk for about thirty seconds you marked him down as a chain smoker. Sure enough, in 1990 his larynx was removed due to cancer.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Stop him at any cost!

Once a man of the Hon. Galahad Threepwood's antecedents starts taking pen in hand and being reminded of amusing incidents that happened to my dear old friend So-and-So, you never know where he will stop; and all over England, among the more elderly of the nobility and gentry, something like a panic had been raging ever since the news of his literary activities had got about. From Sir Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe, of Matchingham Hall, to grey-headed pillars of Society in distant Cumberland and Kent, whole droves of respectable men who in their younger days had been rash enough to chum with the Hon Galahad were recalling past follies committed in his company and speculating agitatedly as to how good the old pest's memory was.

For Galahad in his day had been a notable lad about town. A beau sabreur of Romano's. A Pink 'Un. A Pelican. A crony of Hughie Drummond and Fatty Coleman; a brother-in-arms of the Shifter, the Pitcher, Peter Blobbs and the rest of an interesting but not strait-laced circle. Bookmakers had called him by his pet name, barmaids had simpered beneath his gallant chaff. He had heard the chimes at midnight. And when he had looked in at the old Gardenia, commissionaires had fought for the privilege of throwing him out. A man, in a word, who should never have been taught to write and who, if unhappily gifted with that ability, should have been restrained by Act of Parliament from writing Reminiscences.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

A man of modest hopes

The ninth Earl was a man of few and simple ambitions. He had never desired to mould the destinies of the State, to frame its laws and make speeches in the House of Lords that would bring all the peers and bishops to their feet, whooping and waving their hats. All he yearned to do, by way of ensuring admittance to England's Hall of Fame, was to tend his prize sow, Empress of Blandings, so sedulously that for the second time in two consecutive years he would win the silver medal in the Fat Pigs class at the Shropshire Agricultural Show.

(from Summer Lightning, by Sir Pelham Wodehouse)

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Wellington's ugly cousin

"Torpid Wellington is my first cousin once removed, which everyone agrees wasn't often enough."

(from Fibber McGee and Molly)

Historical markers

One pervasive feature of the Texas highway system are the historical markers that are found regularly along the roads. It might be an interesting project sometime to undertake to read all of them. Of course, I do not know how many there are, so that might not be a realistic undertaking.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Victoria lacked Elizabeth's high intellectual qualities, though she was sensible, if somewhat stubborn. Perhaps her most distinctive contribution was the restoration of the crown to a position of respect which it had lost under the Georges. Victoria was the personification of respectability, and the term "mid-Victorian" now connotes the ultrapropriety of "middle-class morality" in that period when legs were "limbs" and many other things were unmentionable. Later generations might sneer at such extremes, but they were a decided improvement over the coarseness which reflected the character of her uncle George IV.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Monday, July 09, 2018

Good old confusion

"There is nothing like confusion when you are in the minority, and that includes politics or if you are in a brawl." (from The Adventures of Frank Race radio show)

Overkill - literally

In the early nineteenth century [in England] there were over two hundred crimes for which the punishment was death. "It was a capital offense to pick a man's pocket, it was a capital offense to steal five shillings from a shop; it was a capital offense to rob a rabbit warren; it was a capital offense to cut down a tree." This state of affairs tended on the one hand to cause occasional oversevere punishment, and on the other hand to discourage juries from bringing in a verdict of guilty.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Interesting quote from John Locke

"Whenever law ends, tyranny begins, if the law be transgressed to another's harm; and whosoever in authority exceeds the power given him by the law, and makes use of the force he has under his command, to compass that upon the subject which the law allows not, ceases in that to be a magistrate, and acting without authority may be opposed, as any other man who by force invades the right of another."

Saturday, July 07, 2018

About those railroad ties

"He wondered why they laid the ties so that a man could not walk upon them decently, but had to go a step and a half and then a step or so . . . arrah, a bothersome thing!" (from The Man From Skibbereen, by Louis L'Amour)

We spent a good bit of time in my youth walking along the old Rock Island line that ran just south of Highway 10, and I remember wondering the same thing.

Related image

Friday, July 06, 2018

Monumental event

In 1844 Samuel F. B. Morse send from Washington to Baltimore the first long-distance telegraphic message. In 1866 transatlantic cable service was permanently established. In this day when we take instantaneous world-wide communication for granted, we may forget just how important were these two advances in communication. Commerce took a giant step forward.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

When things started changing faster

Every decade since 1760 has seen a greater development in communication than took place in the whole fifteen hundred years before that date. In the England of 1760 a speed of one hundred and fifty miles a day was considered fast even for couriers riding night and day with important messages. The normal rate of travel on the main roads was about forty miles a day, while freight moved at about half that speed.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Justin Tarr on The Rat Patrol

Of the five main characters in the first year of this television series, "Tully" was the least colorful. A laconic Kentuckian, he chewed on a match stick and rarely contributed to the dialogue. Yet, the writers managed to make him a vital part of the action even with very limited dialogue. He is always before the camera doing something, although rarely speaking.

Image result for tully rat patrol

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The effects of women and children working

Long hours in the factory left the women no chance to care for their homes properly. As a result their dark, cheerless rooms were dirty, untidy, and ill-kept. With no time for cooking, the family meals became too largely a matter of baker's bread. The children were dirty and half sick from neglect and the wrong sort of food. Bad enough as these conditions were for the strong and well, they were the more deplorable for the sick and the aged. The home atmosphere was not improved by the too frequent presence of the unemployed husband and father, spending his days idly in the nearest "pub" or in half-hearted attempts to improve the house-keeping. A by-product of the bad home conditions was the insecurity of the aged. There was, for instance, no room in the crowded tenements for aged parents, nor money to support them.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Monday, July 02, 2018

When women and children moved into the workforce

Concurrent with the hardening of class lines came an enormous increase in the employment of women and children in industry. The new machinery, particularly in the manufacture of textiles, made their labor more profitable than in the old days; for a premium was now placed on quickness and agility rather than on strength. Tying broken threads and tending looms was not hard labor from the standpoint of sheer muscle, and most tasks of this description could be done more easily by women and by children than by men. The results were unfortunate. Women, drawn from their homes, competed with men in the labor market, thus depressing the wage scale; and children placed in factories were unable to fend for themselves and were subjected to harsh and inhuman treatment.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

Image result for children in sweatshops 1800s

Sunday, July 01, 2018

They moved to the city - in a hurry

The typical English worker became a city dweller instead of a countryman. In 1750 about three quarters of England's population was rural; in 1851 the census showed that the rural and urban populations were almost exactly equal; in 1901 more than three quarters of the population was urban; and in 1931 four fifths.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)